Red Bull claim they didn’t care about pole position

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz beat Max Verstappen to pole position at the 2023 Italian GP by just 0.013s.

Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has insisted that the Austrians “never really focused on pole position” at the Italian Grand Prix on Saturday, with the Milton Keynes-based side having prioritised their race set-up.

Reigning World Champion Max Verstappen was denied pole position by Carlos Sainz at Monza, after the Ferrari driver went 0.013s quicker than the Dutchman.

Sainz’s pole lap resulted in an almighty roar from the thousands of Ferrari fans in attendance, who now believe that a Scuderia win could be on the cards at the ‘Temple of Speed’.

Verstappen will still start on the front row and is arguably the favourite for victory, given that a win would see him break the record for most consecutive victories.

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Should the two-time World Champion take victory on Sunday, then it’d mark his 10th in a row.

Marko revealed after qualifying on Saturday that the team knew Ferrari would be quick over one-lap, with Red Bull instead focusing on the race.

The 80-year-old is confident that his side have a “strategic advantage” over the home heroes.

“We already knew that Ferrari would be strong and we never really focused on pole position,” Marko told ORF.

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“Looking at how we went about it with the set-up, for the race it is a lot more important [than for qualifying].

“With these positions, we have a good tactical and strategic advantage.”

Surprisingly, even Verstappen was pleased to claim P2 on the grid, with him recognising that so far this season the RB19 has been “quick” during the races.

The 25-year-old is still targeting victory despite having been beaten by Sainz to pole, although the Dutchman recognises that the times have been “very tight” in every completed session so far this weekend.

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“We made some good improvements compared to yesterday and in every session it was very tight,” Verstappen said.

“I am happy to be second today. Normally we have a quick race car and I will try to win the race, but let’s first enjoy today.”

Should Verstappen defeat both Ferrari drivers and claim victory, then it’d put him one-step closer to a third consecutive Drivers’ Championship, which he could claim at the Japanese Grand Prix.